THE MEDUSA VS. THE SON OF HERCULES (1965)
Article #1208 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-5-2004
Posting Date: 12-2-2004
Directed by Albert De Martino
Featuring Richard Harrison, Anna Ranalli, Arturo Dominici
Perseus comes to the aid of the kingdom of Sepharis, which is being oppressed by the tyranny of the kingdom of Argos.
Let’s take this one step by step:
The Hero: According to the opening narration, the “Sons of Hercules” is a catchall term for any number of mythological heroes, some of whom are real sons of Hercules, and the others who are sons of…..someone else, but who have won the title of a “Son of Hercules” as an honorary. This is one of the latter; in fact, it’s Perseus, though some great liberties have been taken with the Perseus tale here. He doesn’t have super-strength, but he’s resilient, and there are other aspects of the story that clearly move it into the realm of the fantastic.
The story: This is another one that is surprisingly coherent, telling as it does the story of a conflict between two kingdoms and the role played by Perseus in helping to defeat the oppressors.
Comic relief: None. No cute midgets or cowardly sidekicks. The closest this movie comes to intentional comedy is having Perseus talk to a deer.
The monsters: For a sword and sandal epic, they’re surprisingly good. The dragon that lives in the lake certainly looks better than any number of puppets from other movies, and even though the Medusa looks nothing like the gorgons of legend (it looks like a black tree trunk with a big red eye and tendrils), it’s handled so atmospherically that it may be the most memorable monster in any sword-and-sandal epic.
The fights: There are actually some novel and effective scenes here. The battle scenes are somewhat confusing, but the various games of the tournament sequence are quite good.
All in all, I found this to be one of the better of the pepla. Richard Harrison is likable as Perseus, and except for a slightly slow middle section, it moves at a good pace and has a fair amount of atmosphere. It’s certainly one of my favorites of the genre.